Cubs Braves Matchup

Today the Cubs start a series with the Braves in Atlanta.  The Braves have fallen from grace these past few years.  Let’s first look at their team status line.

BAT PITCH Rs Ra W L UR LR TeamID
-1.2 -25.1 417 457 44 45 -10.5 -3.3 ATL

PITCH is bad, BAT is almost league average and at 44-45 they’re -1 or almost equal to the Cubs.  That UR is very bad, almost the same as the Cubs so we may see runs given up due to errors by both teams this series.  Let’s see what the Ouija Board thinks about this game (noon snapshot).

DATE 07_17 7:35_PM Jul_17_12:17 CHN ATL
LINEAWAY CHN [ 0.590 ] < 0.615 >
STARTAWAY 0.27(0.511) Jon_Lester_CHN
LINEHOME ATL [ 0.427 ] < 0.408 >
STARTHOME -1.01(0.456) Julio_Teheran_ATL

Julio Teheran is off to a bad start but so is Lester this season. The Cubs are above 0.600 in the betting market and that’s quite a premium considering away field disadvantage is 0.460. We have seen the market  over value the Cubs this season after they showed signs of their World Series champions life. The three game sweep of BAL certainly did look like that but all Baltimore’s starters were terrible. Teheran is under water now but he’s not a terrible pitcher. Let’s look at his career.

Year WAA Name_TeamID Pos Rank
2011 -0.5 Julio_Teheran_ATL PITCH XXXXX
2012 -0.3 Julio_Teheran_ATL PITCH XXXXX
2013 2.9 Julio_Teheran_ATL PITCH +092+
2014 4.3 Julio_Teheran_ATL PITCH +039+
2015 -0.1 Julio_Teheran_ATL PITCH XXXXX
2016 4.2 Julio_Teheran_ATL PITCH +055+
2017 -1.0 Julio_Teheran_ATL PITCH XXXXX
Total 9.5

Solid career.  Three years ranked in the top 100 and almost a career year last season.  He’s a good pitcher even though he’s struggling a bit.  The Cubs know about struggling.  Let’s look at lineups.

WAA Name_TeamID Pos PA 07162017
-0.86 Ben_Zobrist_CHN 2B 244
0.76 Kris_Bryant_CHN 3B 373
1.76 Anthony_Rizzo_CHN 1B 395
0.90 Willson_Contreras_CHN C 287
-0.32 Kyle_Schwarber_CHN DH 281
0.99 Ian_Happ_CHN CF 212
0.53 Jason_Heyward_CHN RF 243
0.36 Addison_Russell_CHN SS 292
-0.19 Jon_Jay_CHN LF 201
TOTAL WAA=3.93 PA=2528 WinPct=0.530

This is the lineup against BAL without a pitcher so it’s a little higher than it will be today.  Cubs’ bats certainly came through these last three games so maybe they’re back.

WAA Name_TeamID Pos PA 07162017
-0.10 Ender_Inciarte_ATL CF 413
-0.46 Brandon_Phillips_ATL 2B 335
3.00 Freddie_Freeman_ATL 3B 202
-0.15 Matt_Kemp_ATL LF 323
0.08 Nick_Markakis_ATL RF 384
1.68 Matt_Adams_TOT 1B 243
0.34 Tyler_Flowers_ATL C 228
-1.30 Dansby_Swanson_ATL SS 339
-0.29 Jaime_Garcia_ATL P 28
TOTAL WAA=2.79 PA=2495 WinPct=0.521

Freddie Freeman and Matt Adams, who they got from the Cardinals, are having good years.  Their shortstop isn’t however.  Both lineups are about equal in overall value but the Cubs’ lineup is more balanced.  Zobrist is their worst hitter and he hit well against BAL raising him above -1  so maybe he’s back.  It doesn’t matter what happened in the past and the numbers above only reflect the past.

Since ATL has such a bad PITCH let’s look at their relief.

TeamID WAA IP WinPct
ATL -0.29 295.2 0.496

That is close to average and above what I expected. The Cubs have a top tier +7 relief squad. We are going to switch to parsing rosters soon. After Butler became a reliever it may be more informative to add up the value of the current relievers listed on the roster. The lineups reflect current value and they sometimes differ greatly from their BAT number derived from the season long run differential.

These are two equal teams in lineup playing each other.  The Cubs might have a starter advantage and they certainly have a relief advantage but does that justify the premium they are getting for being an away team?   IMHO the market is over valuing the Cubs.   All Cubs fans have high hopes that they’re back but as a neutral observer looking at all the numbers ATL seems under valued and Cubs bettors are risking much more than they’ll win.

The Cubs could win 10-0 and make me look like a fool.  One game does not prove or disprove anything however.  If you flip a coin and it comes up heads and you thought it would come up heads that doesn’t change the underlying probability of the event.  This data model is trying to discern that probability, something no one can prove about a complex event like a baseball game.

The most accurate measure of that probability is the betting market.  If anyone can prove they can calculate the probability better than the Ouija Board they can make real money in Las Vegas even with the house cut.   Guys like Nate Silver throw out probability numbers but  never prove their theories.  They never go back to check  if when they predicted 60% for an event to happen does it come close to that in real life?  What is their error?  They don’t know.   No one in the baseball stat world cares whether or not their predictive ability can actually predict.   Throw out some numbers and no one will know the difference.   If anyone can find a way to predict a probability they wouldn’t be writing for a newspaper or doing a blog like this.

I can’t come up with a number better than the Ouija Board but sometimes it is wrong by a lot.  I don’t gamble and certainly wouldn’t bet against the Cubs, unless of course it isn’t gambling.